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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Authorities indicted Cory Ziolkowski for the murder of James “Bucky” Ball, who was shot while tied to a chair on Nov. 3, 2003, in Texarkana. The Bowie County trial court ordered Ziolkowski to wear ankle restraints during trial out of concern for courtroom security and the seriousness of the offense. The trial court gave explicit instructions and made accommodations to ensure that the jury would not see Ziolkowski’s ankle shackles. After voir dire, and out of the presence of the jury, Ziolkowski’s trial counsel lodged an objection to the trial court’s order that Ziolkowski wear ankle shackles during jury selection. A Bowie County jury convicted Ziolkowski, who received a 50-year sentence. On appeal, Ziolkowski contended that insufficient cause supported the trial court’s shackling order and that Ziolkowski suffered reversible harm as a result of the shackling. HOLDING:Affirmed. When a defendant is viewed by the jury in handcuffs or shackles, the court stated, his or her presumption of innocence is seriously infringed. Only in rare circumstances is shackling called for, and in such event, the record must detail the grounds for such action. The trial court must set forth with specificity the reasons supporting its decision to restrain the defendant. Additionally, the court stated that in such circumstances all efforts must be made to ensure the jury does not view the defendant in shackles. On appeal, the court stated, the role of an appellate court is to determine whether the trial court abused its discretion in authorizing the restraint. Even if an abuse of discretion exists, reversal may not be called for if such abuse was harmless. The court noted that the trial court ordered Ziolkowski to wear ankle restraints during trial out of concern for “courtroom security, [and] the seriousness of the offense.” But the use of restraints, such as shackles, cannot be justified based on a general appeal to the need for courtroom security or simple reference to the severity of the charged offense, the court reiterated. The court found that the trial court’s concern for courtroom security and the seriousness of Ziolkowski’s offense were not specific enough reasons to shackle him. The trial court, however, took specific preventive measures to keep the jury from observing the shackles. The court found no evidence that jurors ever saw Ziolkowski’s shackles, nor did it find any evidence that the shackles hampered Ziolkowski in his ability to communicate with his trial attorney. Absent any evidence the jury actually saw the shackles, the court concluded beyond a reasonable doubt that Ziolkowski did not suffer reversible harm. OPINION:Carter, J.; Morriss, C.J., and Carter and Moseley, J.J.

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